The H-1B Process Overview

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Securing your H-1B visa is a team effort. You will work together with your employer, as well as various US government agencies to ensure that before your visa is approved, your job and your credentials qualify you for this visa, and that your employer will be able to provide you prevailing wages and benefits for the work you do.

At the beginning of this process, you will be alone, applying for jobs and pursuing interviews. Once you are hired, however, you step out the direct process for a period of time and your employer takes on most of the petition work for a while. What goes on behind the scenes?

Before you file your petition, your employer has to interface with both the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor. First, he must submit an application called a Labor Condition Application (LCA) to the Department of Labor. This is to protect you as their employee. This application is to prove that the business meets proper working conditions and can provide you with prevailing wages without putting their business or other employees in financial strain. In this application, they must prove that their business or organization is financially viable and working conditions are up to par.

The LCA must be approved before anyone can move forward. However, you can and should start working on getting all of the requested documentation for your H-1B petition collected, verified, and in order during this process. For the next step, your diplomas and transcripts will be required.

Once the LCA is approved, your employer will then submit another petition to the Department of Homeland Security. This petition is an I-129 and its purpose is to determine whether or not your job qualifies as a specialty occupation. Remember, H-1B visas are for highly skilled workers possessing a US bachelor’s degree or its equivalent or higher. That means, your job must require a US bachelor’s degree or its equivalent or higher to be eligible to qualify for this particular visa.

For an I-129, your employer must show that not only does this particular position in this particular company require a specialized degree. He must also prove that this qualification is an industry standard for similar positions in similar companies. At the same time, you must prove that you meet this requirement and possess the specialized degree, skills, and knowledge required to successfully carry out your job. For this reason, your petition must also include your diplomas and transcripts. If you earned your degree in a country outside of the United States, you will also have to submit a credential evaluation from an authorized credential evaluation agency assessing the value of you degree by US educational standards.

Finally, once your I-129 is approved, THEN you will submit your H-1B petition to the Department of State. This petition will contain all of the information necessary to show that both you and your job meet all of the requirements for an H-1B visa.

This multi-step process includes three petitions – the LCA, the I-129, and the H-1B petitions, two parties – you and your employer, and three government bureaucracies – the Department of Labor, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of State. A big reason for this is to catch inconsistencies. If information is different in one petition from another, that will raise red flags. Be sure to keep copies of each petition you submit and triple-check each document and application before submitting it. Make sure all of the information you submit is consistent with your diplomas, transcripts, resumes, and other documentation, and also consistent with all of the other petitions you and your employer must submit in this process. This will take an organized approach and collaborative teamwork.

Rewrite for Evaluation Credentials

The road to getting your H-1B visa approved is a multi-step process involving three government bureaucracies, your employer and you. The reason for the many steps and different agencies is to ensure the information you submit is consistent. If you submit one petition with different information than another, or with information differing from a transcript, resume, or other required document, it raises a big red flag. For this reason, you and your employer need to work together and be very organized. Make copies of each of the petitions you submit and cross reference them before filing subsequent petitions. Triple-check your answers before filing to make sure all of the information matches. Even misspellings can be met with an RFE you will then have to deal with.

Your H-1B process is a team effort between you and your employer. You will not be a direct part of every step of the process, but it’s important for you to know what’s going on so you can do your part to get all of the documentation and evidence together on time.

After you are approved for hire for your specialty occupation, your employer must submit a Labor Conditions Application to the Department of Labor to prove they meet standard working conditions and can pay you prevailing wages and benefits. This application is for your safety. If they don’t meet labor standards, you don’t want to be working for them anyway. If they can’t pay you fairly for your work, you don’t want to be working for them anyway. If the company isn’t economically viable, you don’t want to be working for them anyway.

Once this application is approved, you and your employer must arrange and file an I-129 petition with the Department of Homeland Security. This petition must provide evidence to prove that your job is a specialty occupation requiring a US bachelor’s degree or its equivalent or higher to carry out the tasks of the job. To do this, your employer has to show that industry standards require a specialized degree as a minimum qualification for your job. That means similar companies have the same requirements of employees filling similar positions. Along with this evidence, you also must prove you meet these requirements by submitting your transcripts and diplomas. If your specialized degree is from outside of the United States, you will have to take an extra step to prove the value of your education in terms of US standards by submitted a detailed evaluation of your credentials from an authorized credential evaluation agency. This evaluation will clearly show the academic content and value of your degree in terms of US education standards.

Once your I-129 is approved, you can start in on your H-1B petition with the Department of State. This final petition must clearly prove that you, your employer, and your job meet all of the H-1B visa requirements.

A detail-oriented team effort is required to get your visa approved. Work together with your employer, always keep the lines of communication open, and ALWAYS check over your petitions thoroughly before filing.

Reprinted with permission.


About The Author

Sheila Danzig is the director of Career Consulting International at the www.TheDegreePeople.com, a foreign credential evaluation agency. They specialize in difficult cases and RFEs, Denials, NOIDs, 3 year degrees etc. and offer free review of all H1B, E2, I140 education at http://www.ccifree.com/?CodeILART/


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.